Spending a fortune on Chemicals

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
I'm still new to this site, and it fascinates me. This year I want to learn how to better maintain our inground pool. My husband has the pool store test and then he buys whatever they recommend. It's killing us! We've been in our house for 5 years and we're still learning about maintenance. Tonight I went in with a water sample and the sales clerk was shocked at the results and couldn't believe what the printout said. She asked me to talk with my husband about what he's added lately so we can figure out why the numbers are so high. I did a search on this site, and there's plenty to learn about chemistry, and I need to start somewhere (quickly). The water looks fine, but I know that I need to stay ahead of this. Info you might need: We're in Iowa. Plaster pool with fiberglass panel sidewalls. Built in 1986. 3' - 10' deep. 46,000 gallons (we think). It's been opened just over a week. He added a lot of salt when he opened the pool. I don't know exactly how much but he hauled many bags of salt to the back yard. Polaris AutoClear Plus SWG. Gas heater that we only use occasionally at night on the spa side. Here's the results and their recommendation:

Adj. Total Alk.: 165
Total Hardness: 243
Minerals: 800
Total Chlorine: .2
Free Chlorine: 0
pH: 8.7

Recommendations: Add 1012 labs of Mineral Springs Beginnings (I don't remember that we ever used this in the past...but then again we do whatever they say)
Add 9 pts Muriatic Acid for 7 days.
Add 9.3 pts Muriatic Acid
Use Sanitizer Boost Setting or Add 4.5 lbs of Super Soluble
Use Mineral Springs Cell Cleaner

Can these numbers actually be right? I thought have a chlorine generator mean spending less on chemicals. We've owned this unit for two seasons and we're spending just as much on chemicals. Any ideas for us?
 
G

Guest

The best thing you can do (now that you've found this site!) is go to Pool School (top right of the TFP page) and read and learn! Get a good test kit (they are offered on the site and are a great deal!) and learn your water info yourself, so that you do not have to rely on the pool stores (that are only trying to sell you something anyway!)! Stop using anything that they try and sell you or have sold you in the past, and apply the BBB method taught here. You will not go wrong, and if you get in any trouble someone on here will point you in the right direction (chances are a whole lot of folks will!)! There are tons of friendly, helpful people here with nothing to sell you who only want to help.

Congrats on finding the page and for taking the first step in taking control of your pool :cheers: I would bet that you are going to have a great summer in your pool :party: :whoot: :party:
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,997
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Step 1: Relax. Now you've found us, things will get better.
Step 2: Break out the credit card and go order a good test kit.TF100 is preferred around here, K-2006 has the same exact chemicals, in smaller bottles but with a prettier case.
Step 3: Assuming the pH reading is correct, and it may be, add some acid. Pool Calculatortells me they're underestimating acid demand a little. You might want to bookmark that page :wink:
Step 4: Read Pool School
Step 5: Once pH gets into a somewhat normal range, get some Chlorine in there. Aren't you glad you bookmarked Pool School?
Step 6: Once the test kit arrives, get a full set of numbers and post them here. Then you will get guidance on what to add and how much. And then you can get that SWG fired off. And then you will get to enjoy a
[center:22r6h2zj]Trouble Free Pool [/center:22r6h2zj]
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
31,713
Sebring, Florida
LoraMae,

Welcome to the forum. You can get all the help you need here but there's a couple of important things to deal with first..

1. One of you has to take care of the pool. Either his way or your way. If not, you'll both end up throwing things in the pool (or at each other...yikes :shock: ) that are counterproductive. Get together and decide....two people cannot clear a pool by adding different ingredients.

2. You need better advice than you are getting from the pool store.

Your pH has to be your first concern. I can't imagine how they measured it that high so I doubt that it is but, nevertheless, you need to get your pH retested ASAP.

Then, get some chlorine in your pool.

Start by putting in 1 big jug of Clorox each evening after the sun is off the pool. Do this each evening until you can post a full set of tests that should look like this.....

pH
FC
CC
TA
CYA

The CYA test (which they didn't provide) is very, very important.

The biggest leap towards taking charge of your pool is getting your own test kit and doing your own testing. Meanwhile get those test numbers, decide who's going to manage the pool, and we'll all help keep it sparkling clear and save you a lot of money.
 

cheddar85

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2010
271
Houston, TX
Welcome to TFP LoraMae! Bruce, Richard, and Dave have already given you great advice. I'll just reinforce what Bruce said, there are LOTS of us here to help! It may seem overwhelming at first, but after a little while, you will see how little work (and chemicals) your pool really takes! No one here is going to try to sell you anything, all we want is for you to have that Trouble Free Pool!
 

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
Thank you for quick responses! I'm hanging on every thread from the Concrete Pool up North story, so I know how helpful everyone can be.

Duraleigh...you are so right with #1. I waited for my husband to head to Des Moines tonight and I quickly took a water sample in to be tested. I'd much rather have him in charge, but I need to give him some inexpensive alternatives to the pool store.

I like the Clorox idea. I'll review posts in the morning and re-read the Pool School info.

I have two new inexpensive test kits on hand that we haven't used. They only test the basics. Will a simple kit work for now? I read Pool School before I posted and I need to re-read, because it's just not sinking in. I'll order a better test kit, but I think we need to make changes tomorrow.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
20,997
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
LoraMae said:
I have two new inexpensive test kits on hand that we haven't used. They only test the basics. Will a simple kit work for now? I read Pool School before I posted and I need to re-read, because it's just not sinking in. I'll order a better test kit, but I think we need to make changes tomorrow.
Yes, they will work for pH, which is the priority.
 

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
While I still have a captive audience, tell me how to get to the online store. Is there one at this website? I'd like to order a good test kit.
 

duraleigh

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Apr 1, 2007
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Sebring, Florida
As Richard indicated, test your pH with your kit and post that result tomorrow
 

duraleigh

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Sebring, Florida
Oops, I didn't see your post. I have an agenda in that I make and sell the TF-100 kit....I need to let others help you with that.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
LoraMae said:
I have two new inexpensive test kits on hand that we haven't used. They only test the basics. Will a simple kit work for now?
Getting a top quality test kit will more than pay for it's self in the long run in reduced chemical usage and avoided problems. I recommend getting the TF-100 from TFTestKits.net. The Taylor K-2006 is also good.

In the mean time, even an inexpensive kit is much much better than nothing.

The main thing is that you need to bring your PH down to between 7.2 and 7.6. You can do that with just a simple PH test by adding less muriatic acid than you really need, waiting half an hour to an hour with the pump running, testing the PH again, and continuing to adjust from there. I suspect that you are going to need more than a gallon of muriatic acid, as the pools store suggested, but you don't want to add that all at once. I would be a little more aggressive about adding it than they suggest, you can add as much as one quart at a time, and don't need to wait a whole day between additions as long as you give it time to mix in and then test the PH again to be sure it is still high before continuing.
 

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
For those following and trying to help...I tested the water in the pool this morning with our inexpensive home kit. The test results don't even come close to matching what is on the key.
Total Hardness -- pale purple?
Total Chlorine -- white 0
Free Chlorine -- white 0
pH -- pink
Total Alkalinity -- blue (key is in the greens)
Cyanuric Acid 00 - 150

I haven't added anything yet. I'll update my husband with the posts I've received and we'll take any more advice you give. He'll make purchases this afternoon and add chemicals then depending on what you say. Thank so much.
 

JasonLion

TFP Expert
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LifeTime Supporter
May 7, 2007
37,880
Silver Spring, MD
I don't trust test strips very much, but they are usually more or less alright for PH testing. Work on lowering the PH as I said last time, and order a good test test kit.
 

Steve456

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 3, 2008
132
Texas
Most pool owners came to this site for advice because they were tired of running to the pool store to get their water tested and being told to purchase $100 to $200 of chemicals. When we first purchased our house I read two large books on pool maintenance and could talk the lingo but still did not know how to maintain a crystal clear pool at minimal cost. To get control of your pool and save money you should:

1.Purchase a cheap drop based color matching pool test kit from Walmart or other low cost store. You will use all the chemicals. Start testing today with your new test kit.
2.Purchase a good pool test kit. I use the kit sold by duraleigh. This kit and the K-2006 enable you to accurately measure the free Cl in the water and the combined Cl. Combined Cl indicates that you have algae. You need to maintain a minimum level of free Cl to prevent algae and bacteria. Test strips are not sufficiently accurate; BTW test strips are used in most pool stores. Pool stores use test strips because the test strips are easy and fast; not because the strips are accurate. Duraleigh ships very quickly but you will need to wait several days to receive your kit. A good test kit costs more money than many people want to spend; however, the same people are wiling to spend $100+ for unneeded pool store chemicals. Go figure.
3.Read the Pool School articles. Read the Pool School articles again. You will learn more useful information than I learned in 500+ pages in pool maintenance books.
4.Post your water test results here.
5.Go to the Pool Calculator to determine how much of each chemical to add to the pool.
6.Maintain your pool with muriatic acid, SWG and occasional bleach. Ignore most of the chemicals pool stores will attempt to sell you.

Result: you will have a crystal clear pool at low cost. You will take control of your pool.

A personal note. I generally do not know many of the products people add to their pools because the pool store told them to. I do know that you do not need them because our pool remains crystal clear. Buy pool chemicals by the chemical name. You will find that the BBB method works because you are adding the necessary chemicals without the pool store markup. I have not purchased a pool chemical from a pool store in years. I use the BBB method and a SWG. With a SWG we add muriatic acid perhaps once every two weeks. After a pool party I will pour a little bleach in the pool.

If you learn the BBB method, learn how to test your water, learn how to properly maintain your SWG, your pool chemical costs should be very low.
 

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
Thanks Steve 456. What is the BBB method?? We've been slowly working with muriatic acid, more salt, and bleach since Friday morning. My husband put the generator on boost this morning. I know we'll get there. My 7-year old loves the test strips, so she doesn't mind testing every time we ask. Sooooo... you don't use stabilizer in tube socks hanging from the pool ladders?
 

dorpo75

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 8, 2009
256
NE Ohio
Actually, the tube sock with stabilizer in it hangs in front of my return. Trust these folks. I am a newbie here and I swear by the advice they give. My pool has NEVER looked better and I am in control of what goes in! It doesn't get much better than that unless someone comments on how beautiful the water looks. Yep. One of our members calls it "sparklypoolitis". I've got it. Just wait. Follow these methods and you will be getting too!
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
LoraMae said:
What is the BBB method??
See What is BBB? in the Pool School. It is really a philosophy of pool maintenance where you learn what it is you are putting into your pool so that you are in control of it and can choose to minimize costs and have simpler and less expensive maintenance.
 

anonapersona

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 5, 2008
2,598
Test, then add what you need, nothing else.

Testing is WAY WAY cheaper than randomly adding stuff, hoping that it will work.
 

LoraMae

Active member
May 23, 2010
32
Marion, Iowa
If anyone is still willing to help, we're still struggling. We have a Polaris Auto Clear Plus SWG and my husband said that he's worried he might need to clean the cell. He has the manual out and he said the numbers simply don't match the numbers in the user's guide. The SWG does indicate the salt levels in the pool are adequate. I've ordered a good test kit from Duraleigh. Meanwhile, we seem to have black scungy stuff in the corners of the deep end and all around the perimeter of the pool where there is caulk. It looks disgusting and we cannot get a brush to get into that 90 degree crevice. I know it's because our FC level was 0 for the past five days. Our cheap test kit indicates this:
Total Hardness 1000
Total Chlorine 0 -- it was .5 this afternoon
FC 0
pH 8.4
Total Alkalinity 240
Cyanuric Acid 300

He's added 2 gallons of muriatic acid since Saturday. He added 300 lbs of salt last night. He added shock last night. It seems we cannot get the pH, alkalinity, and cyanuric acid to drop. He went out and put the SWG on boost again. I will read more on Pool School before bed tonight. I feel so dumb... and I'm not. The water is crystal clear and beautiful. I fear the black scungy stuff on the caulk is algae and I don't want that to get out of control. It's too early in the pool season to fight with this.